17 January 2017
Christchurch entrepreneur Emily Heazlewood is encouraging people to “live a more adventurous life” by crowdsourcing and sharing new things to do in their own backyard.
Heazlewood was driven to set up Romer – a mobile app – after finding social media increasingly “anything but social”, with people sharing images in a my-holiday-is-better-than-yours way rather than inviting others to share their experiences. Romer invites people to discover new places and activities, share their experiences and aims to inspire others to try their favourite activities too.
App users, described as “Romers”, pick a category and swipe through specific activities to discover specific “Romes” – from checking out a funky cafe to going on a newly-discovered walk. It is easy to invite friends to join a specific outing and Romers can also vote on multiple options to help friends make a decision.
“We live so much on social media. Romer is all about exploring and getting out which is how life should be,” Heazlewood says. “Everyone can stop going on about this ‘avo-on-toast’ culture; our Romers are all about adventure. They are sharing their one secret – their secret that they would usually share with their family and their friends. They’re sharing it with New Zealand now.”
A big focus is on exploring one’s own backyard before heading overseas for a holiday and the more specific the activity, the better. An example would be trying the “best french toast” at The Gentle Giant in Christchurch, Heazlewood says. “I’ve got a ridiculous list of things I want to do now because I see this waterfall and I go, ‘That can’t be New Zealand”, so I Google it and I go, ‘Wow that’s an hour out of Auckland’. One girl uploaded a walk and had over 400 people save it to do.”
Heazlewood founded Romer about a year ago after working in the real estate industry for several years. She had support from Vodafone-backed xone, which included office space in central Christchurch. The app’s developers, Smudge Apps, are also Christchurch-based.
Romer works throughout New Zealand (it is even being used in Rarotonga) and there are plans to launch it in Australia and Asia this year – region by region. Heazlewood says despite expanding into Australia, the team will still be based in her home town. She says before she set up Romer she had no idea Christchurch had such a thriving start-up and innovation scene.
- Check out Romer’s top 10 things to do in Christchurch this summer here.